D&D (2024) Would you be fine with classes that you can't always play but are better than base classes?

It wasnt the true multiclassing system that was the issue, it was the game math and bad feat design.
It was basically an attempt to have your cake and eat it too. In PF1, 3e and 5e, multiclassing was great at adding some additional versatility to your character. But it's biggest drawback was that it would pushback what features you gained from either class (and subclasses) back by a couple of levels. You would also lose the chance to gain the high-level features as well as the capstone.

PF2 tried to fix this problem by making the class you were multiclassing into an archetype whose features could then be picked up at certain levels as archetype feats. This idea had it's origin back in PF1 where it existed as an option. Then it became a main feature in PF2.

The idea is that you are funneled into class paths. The idea is to put lanes in front of you that you must choose but cant really move beyond or back on to keep the system tight. It works at its goal, which is to make you a specialist, and keep the CR tight and predictable. Which is great if thats what you are after. I happen to very much not be looking for that. Though, I do appreciate a well designed system even if its not for me.
Not my cup of tea either. I prefer a system that gives you some boundaries to work off of, but also allows you a lot of room to customize your character.
 

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Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
Of course, with the standard being Point Buy or whatever now there would have to be an alternate method. Like roll a 6 on a D6 if you want to make a Paladin or Ranger. This is assuming they are Better Class Plus. Could be whole new classes that are a take on the regular balanced class. Not a Sorcerer but a... Witch King! Or whatever.

That's more or less exactly how I treat nonhuman PCs now. I want them to be rare, so I gate them behind a random die-roll; but I don't want that rarity tied to ability scores, so I keep the two mechanics entirely separate.

Instead, at character creation, after rolling for ability scores but before rolling for starting cash, the player makes a "heritage roll" on 3d6, with a result of 3–13 indicating that the character must be human; 14+ opens up Common nonhuman types (e.g., dwarf fighter, elf fighter/magic-user); 15+ unlocks Uncommon options (humanoids, or demihumans in less stereotypical classes); 16+ for Rare types (monstrous humanoids, or demihumans that outright defy their stereotype like dwarf magic-user); 17+ for Exotic player characters (actual monsters); and 18 for Unique concepts (literally anything the player can conceive of, that I can manage to balance and somehow justify its having been transported into the setting).

The point of my having a mechanic like this is to enforce the aesthetic of a human-centric fantasy setting while also still allowing for the possibility of nonhuman or otherwise unusual player characters, but not leaving that possibility entirely up to the players (who often have that tendency to want to play something special or unique as a matter of course — which has the knock-on effect of rendering these kinds of characters neither special nor unique in the long run).

With respect to character classes specifically, I don't at all mind the concept of powerful classes balanced out by their rarity. (In fact, I do something a bit like that at my table. I don't gate off any classes with stiff minimum ability score requirements; instead, I make sure that the classes I want to be rarer have multiple prime requisite ability scores.) But I do prefer to avoid having a system of rare and powerful subclasses which are selectable at level 1, like you see in AD&D, because I dislike the unbounded proliferation of classes. Instead, I prefer a small, tight list of playable classes, and any subclasses that differentiate them further must be attained at high levels and through largely diegetic means. (This is one of the reasons that I tend to prefer BECMI over AD&D).
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
So, I will be the odd woman out here and say yes, I would be totally fine with some classes being straight-up more powerful, but also being rarer, with some sort of randomized procedure used to determine when/if one can be played. However, I recognize that this sort of design has extremely niche appeal, and would not be a good fit for D&D. Such a system is better suited for a game where characters are meant to be disposable game pieces rather than vehicles for creative expression. And while D&D may have had roots as such a game, we’re well past that point. I, personally, think wargame-style D&D would be a lot of fun. But I don’t think it’s the kind of experience most people who want to play D&D are looking for from it.

Yeah, it can work in other types of games. I mean, look at Pokemon, rarer more powerful 'Mons work really well for that game. Because the goal is collecting, and you can find the rare ones with time and patience. Videos games and board games can use this design space far more than something like a traditional TTRPG.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Back in the long long ago, Paladins and Rangers where just better. They were Fighters+.

But you couldn't just pick it. You had to roll stats high enough. And even if your DM let you insert your rolls into any stat still didn't mean you had high enough stats to be a Ranger or Paly. They were special and you wanted one in the party if possible. It was always a pleasant surprise when one got to be in the party. Now-a-days it's just ho hum another Ranger.

Of course, with the standard being Point Buy or whatever now there would have to be an alternate method. Like roll a 6 on a D6 if you want to make a Paladin or Ranger. This is assuming they are Better Class Plus. Could be whole new classes that are a take on the regular balanced class. Not a Sorcerer but a... Witch King! Or whatever.

Do classes need to be balanced anyways? Most people seem to get a character idea and not really worried if they will be A+ tier in combat.
Ooh, better idea.

To make a character, you buy a sealed pack of cards. In the pack a selection of species, backgrounds, and classes you can pick. Some are common, some are uncommon, some are rare, and some are mythic. You are guaranteed 12 common choices (champion, high elf, etc) two uncommon (artificer, aasimar) and one rare (moon druid, satyr) or mythic (Twilight domain, aarakorca). Obviously, rarer options are more powerful.


Or maybe we can leave randomness and loot box mechanics out of character creation.
 


Clint_L

Hero
That depended on how much of a stickler the DM/group was about rolling the stats. We eventually got to the point where we didn’t care so much and just had players get as close as they could with what they rolled and then raised the stats to the class minimums. We‘d rather have a player play the class they wanted.
That's my recollection, as well. We decided pretty early on that it was just more fun to let players play what they wanted, and every group I played with had come to more or less the same conclusion. So if you had your heart set on paladin, you could just have the 17 charisma. Interestingly, some folks still chose "vanilla" classes like fighter.

We also did away with level restrictions based on species, attribute restrictions due to gender, etc.

I definitely feel that it is bad design to intentionally make it so that some classes are better than others, and you access them based on lucky (or dishonest) dice rolls. That just doubles the inequity!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Ooh, better idea.

To make a character, you buy a sealed pack of cards. In the pack a selection of species, backgrounds, and classes you can pick. Some are common, some are uncommon, some are rare, and some are mythic. You are guaranteed 12 common choices (champion, high elf, etc) two uncommon (artificer, aasimar) and one rare (moon druid, satyr) or mythic (Twilight domain, aarakorca). Obviously, rarer options are more powerful.
That actually sounds like a lot of fun. Not for every campaign, but once in a while it's fun to see what you get and then come up with a story for how that character came to be. Fun times!
 

Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
That actually sounds like a lot of fun. Not for every campaign, but once in a while it's fun to see what you get and then come up with a story for how that character came to be. Fun times!

Or you can just do it with dice, and then the provocatively inapt TCG and loot box analogies disappear in a puff of irrelevance!

To my knowledge, no DM who runs an old edition or an OSR game with randomization elements built into character generation is profiteering off of it.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
Or you can just do it with dice, and then the provocatively inapt TCG and loot box analogies disappear in a puff of irrelevance!

To my knowledge, no DM who runs an old edition or an OSR game with randomization elements built into character generation is profiteering off of it.

I mean, sure, the DM isn't making money off of the randomness, but the mechanics are still pretty much the exact same whether your are rolling a die, pulling a slot lever, or opening a boost pack. The core idea is still a skinner box, rewards based on randomness.

And there are ways that could be leveraged to be even more exploitative, but you don't need that for this to be just not an appealing concept. And I think, yeah, I'm going to use an anecdote to get the point across on why.

I play a fair number of play by post games online, I find the timing for them is just far more conducive to my life so that I can still play DnD even though I have a hard time carving out a dedicated four hours of time a week. I have wanted to, for about four or five months now, play in a game as a One DnD rogue. I want to test out the Subtle Strikes ability and see how it changes the Rogue gameplay in an actual campaign instead of a one-shot. I have almost gotten the chance three times. Every time the game fell apart within weeks. I had one that I thought would last longer, and the DM suddenly ghosted me.

Now, add to that being forced to roll a d12, and only if I roll a 5 do I get to play a Rogue.

Sure, if I was consistently in seven or eight games, which all reached satisfying conclusions within a few months, then I could play 24 or more characters in just a few years.... but that isn't how it works. The last SEVEN characters I have made for various campaigns, all concepts I was excited about, all ended up with two or three sessions worth of content before the game was abandoned. I just checked, I think the last character I made that actually has gotten more than that, was made back in February 2023. So, just about every single character I made in all of 2023 was abandoned within a few sessions. I've only had two that have been long running, and the one right now which would have hit session 4, except that we've had to cancel the session multiple times.

Three characters, in a year.

Why would I EVER take the risk that one of my only three characters for the entire year would be bound by random chance instead of being what I wanted it to be? I'm already rolling the dice on the fact that I get to play the character at all, why would I want to have a concept, then be denied because I rolled a die and the result wasn't the correct result for what I wanted? And sure, I make different characters most of the time, I don't try recycling concepts too much. But if I wanted random chance to decide for me, I can pick up a die on my own, I don't need or want any type of word from on high, from either the DM or the game rules, telling me "well, if you want to play that Hobgoblin Artificer, I need you to roll some dice and get lucky, because otherwise you aren't allowed to do it." And I especially don't want that to ALSO create disparities where someone is going to be far more powerful than the rest of their team, just because they rolled well enough to unlock the super secret bonus class.
 

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